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This Split Personality Glass-Brick Building Could Rise In Village

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Because it's a historic district, whatever replaces single-story sex shop FantasyWorld on the wedge-shaped corner of 192 Seventh Avenue South at 11th Street in the West Village must win the approval of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Yet because there is less pressure to curb modern design on the Seventh Avenue side of the lot, SRA Architecture + Engineering's first proposal, pictured above and below and presented to neighbors at a meeting last night, consists of a glass-and-metal facade on the avenue-facing side and (mostly) brick on the 11th Street side. "Those two streets have remarkably different contexts," the firm's historic preservation expert Cas Stachelberg told Community Board 2 last night. Jackson Group is the developer.

The contemporary side will wrap around the corner of Seventh and 11th Street and continue along the top of the 11th Street side, framing its windows and a window-wall on the fifth floor. The Seventh Avenue side, it should be noted, is also interrupted by some brick.

Stachelberg, of Higgins Quasebarth & Partners, defended the hybrid facade by sharing a history of Seventh Avenue's extension through the West Village, as it cut through entire blocks, creating tight and wide corners that architects see as a design challenge. One Jackson Square, a glassy Village building designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox, was a response to an oddly shaped corner lot, he said.

Community board members, for their part, didn't love the small size of the windows on the brick facade. "What it looks like is that they used to be bigger but someone came along and bricked them up," said one member. The Seventh Avenue side will have two storefronts that could house one or two tenants. Given the state of ousted sex shops in the area, it's doubtful that a replacement for FantasyWorld (which was still open, last time we checked) will be able to afford the new rents.
—Shannon Ayala
· 192 Seventh Avenue South application [GVHSP; warning: PDF!]
· A West Village "Fantasy" fades after Jackson Group's $21M retail buy [TRD]